The Breakthrough Series Collaborative on Service Integration: A Mixed Methods Study of a Strengths-Based Initiative


  • Cynthia A. Lietz Arizona State University
  • Kathleen L. Andereck Arizona State University
  • Richard C. Knopf Arizona State University



Strengths perspective, service integration, mixed methods, family voice


Arizona’s Department of Economic Security (DES) engaged in a strengths-based initiative to increase quality and integration of human services. Twenty teams including employees from state agencies, community leaders, and families were brought together to discuss and implement improvements to a variety of social services. A mixed methods study was conducted to explore the complex process of forming diverse teams to strengthen social services. Specifically, the research team conducted focus groups to collect qualitative data from a purposive sample of the teams to explore their experiences in greater depth. Analysis of the data led to the development of an online survey instrument that allowed all collaborative members an opportunity to participate in the study. Findings suggest that while the teams faced many challenges, a commitment to the process brought perseverance, communication, and creativity allowing this collaborative to initiate 105 activities to bring about positive changes in social services within their communities.

Author Biographies

Cynthia A. Lietz, Arizona State University

Cynthia A. Lietz, PhD, LCSW is assistant professor at Arizona State University's School of Social Work.

Kathleen L. Andereck, Arizona State University

Ph.D., Professor and Director, School of Community Resources and Development, College of Public Programs Services

Richard C. Knopf, Arizona State University

Ph.D., Professor and Director, Partnership for Community Development, College of Public Programs,